Do Your Students Look Up to You?

When you are actively involved in the classroom and working with your adult students, classroom management and what you need to teach are the order of the day. As the class progresses, you may consider the perspective of your students; along with what motivates them, how they persist when faced with challenges, and what it is like for them to interact with the classroom environment. But have you ever considered how your students view you as an educator? Does it matter to you or influence how you teach when you are planning your class or considering future professional development?

Most educators choose this type of work or career, even when the pay or working conditions are less than ideal. What if you decide to function from this point forward in a manner that is transformative for your students, so that they are somehow better for having been enrolled in your classes? In other words, what if you could teach in a way that will have a long-term impact on your students? If you do influence them in this manner now or decide that you want to change how you teach, they will likely look up to you. This means they will remember you and your class, and more importantly, they will be transformed in some way, whether academically, professionally, or personally.

A Question for Educators

As an educator, consider this question: is functioning in a transformative manner a matter of making consciousness choices in how you act while you are teaching, or is it a result of every interaction you have with your students? Not every student is going to have a positive experience while they interact with you, despite the best of intentions you may have set, yet when students know their instructors care they are more willing to put in the time and make an effort to try when it comes to being involved in the learning process. That extra effort on their part is sometimes all a student needs to get past potential barriers or hurdles.

My experience as an educator has taught me that I always know where I stand with my students by the way they are responding to me, whether in class or through some form of communication such as email. More importantly, I know I have made a long-term impact when I receive unsolicited emails from students and they share special moments from class, lessons learned, challenges they have overcome, lightbulb or “aha” moments, or growth they have experienced; even after class has concluded, as many do not realize the impact of what they have learned until some time later.

What Does It Mean for Students to Look Up to You?

When students have a positive experience and look up to an instructor, what do they “see” in some manner? They usually “see” someone who cares about their students and that does not mean they will bend the rules or give away grades. They can empathize with their students and listen. Students are also inspired by this instructor, as this instructor usually provides ideas, suggestions, and tips that are individual in nature and meant to address specific developmental needs. More importantly, this instructor makes time to offer assistance and demonstrates their engagement and presence in class.

When students look up to an instructor, they also have a feeling response. They will usually feel respect for this instructor, along with trust and appreciation. There is a sense of having a working relationship with this instructor, which is challenging when an instructor is viewed as an authority figure in traditional classes or not visibly present in online classes. What I have learned overall about students who develop positive feelings is that it does not depend upon the class conditions, which I may or may not be able to fully control. The primary factor is the extraordinary steps an instructor takes to inspire their students within the best, and even the worst, of circumstances.

Does It Matter to You?

It is easy to see why teaching in a transformative manner would matter greatly for students. Yet I know from my own experience, and having worked with hundreds of online faculty as a mentor and trainer, that this approach to teaching requires an investment of time and energy. The question I know some educators would raise is this: yes, it matters for students, but what value does the instructor receive from functioning in this manner? The answer is that a transformative approach to teaching transforms both the educator and student. It is about the fulfillment of your mission as an educator, going beyond the function of what you do and even more than knowing the subject of what you teach; it is about the connection you establish, cultivate, and nurture during the time you have with your students – whether it is a few weeks or an entire term.

Teaching in a transformative manner is about changing the focus of your instructional strategies from being teacher-centered to student-centered, with meeting the needs of your students as the primary focus, and any educator is likely to find this to be very fulfilling. As educators hone their instructional strategies or their teaching craft, and refine how they communicate, interact, and address the developmental needs of students, the more meaningful their work becomes. Sometimes this is a product of time and practice, along with trial and error. It also involves being responsive to your students and listening to them, receiving feedback from them and being willing to adapt your instructional practice to meet their needs. An educator should also make a commitment to being a lifelong learner, with a willingness to grow and adapt.

What Do You Do to Become Someone Students Look Up To?

My own goal is to be a role model, mentor, and coach to students. A role model is someone who will lead by example, which means setting a bar and meeting students at that point. For example, when I have established my own standards or expectations for writing or class discussions, I show students what academic writing and substantive posts are like when I am engaged with them in class. Being an example for students is becoming someone they want to emulate in some manner. A mentor is someone students need to work with on a regular basis, not just someone who gives them the answers or tells them to review the course syllabus. When students view an instructor as a mentor, they believe this instructor has the knowledge and wisdom necessary to help them. More importantly, a mentor will take time to help guide them as they learn.

To be a transformative educator, focus on your students and becoming your best as an educator. You can ask yourself these questions: How can you grow as an educator? How can you connect with your students? How can you create an experiential learning experience? What professional development plans can you put into place now to continue to grow? Don’t be concerned with how quickly students look up to you as that will occur naturally when you become the best version of yourself as an educator that you can be. Instead, focus your time and energy on how you can transform the student experience, and by doing so you will naturally transform how you teach. What you will experience will similar to your students. It will be a memorable, experiential, and transformational journey.

Tips For Home Investment – List of Green Features For Remarkable Homes

The massive impact of an ailing environment is already manifesting in many pressing issues and dilemmas the world is facing today. Global warming, climate change, air pollution, flood and the like are just few of the problems rooted from the destruction of the ecology. For home buyers and owners, there are viable alternatives for you to contribute in the protection of the environment through opting for green features incorporated in the design, renovation and construction of your home.

There are Eco-friendly or green means and approach you can use in order to assure that your activity and investment is making the most minimal impact on your surroundings. So what exactly are some green features to look for and utilize in a home?

One of the topmost alternatives for green houses is energy efficiency which is basically manifested in choosing efficient household appliances, high efficiency water heating system, air sealing and extra insulation and advanced framing technique.

Advanced framing and extra insulation is known to reduce the construction costs hence increase energy savings through minimizing lumber demands and production. Through proper water heating system, you also cut off the pipeline energy loss. Choosing household appliances and equipment especially with the labels that meet energy efficiency criteria helps you reduce the initial costs of your appliances as well as your electricity bills.

Ensuring the indoor air quality of your home is another viable feature of an Eco-friendly home. You can do this through the right choice on your carpet, ventilation and paints. It is important to choose carpets with less allergen-attracting components and low-pile features in order to improve the quality of air in your home interior. Use low-toxic and low-VOC paints and make sure that your home is well-ventilated to avoid potential air quality hazards. You can use quiet and automatic electric fans or through heat recovery ventilators.

Lastly, it is of utmost value and importance that you deliberately use materials and equipment for your home project that is amenable in conserving natural resources. For instance you may opt for plastic lumber, engineered wood, brick and fiber cement siding. Plastic lumber materials are actually preferred as reliable construction materials for houses and buildings. This is a good alternative in building benches, decking, docks and fences among others. For engineered wood, a good example is laminated veneer lumber that composes of raw materials with superior performance quality which are equally viable options to traditional items used.

Most importantly, consider recycled building materials which are still of high quality without the hefty price tags. It is also making sure that the demand for construction materials is reduced which eventually means that you are also lessening the demand for the production of needed items from the environment particularly trees.

Green alternatives and features are naturally integrated in modern day houses and establishment due to its incomparable benefits to both home owners and the ecology. Educate yourself of the different green choices you have which are advantageous in your investment as well as sound and wise choices to nature.

How Do You Put Heart and Soul Into Teaching Adults?

Teaching adult students can be a transformative experience, for educators and students alike, when both immerse themselves in the learning experience through the exchange of ideas and discourse which sparks critical thinking. Teaching adults is more commonly called instruction or facilitation, and is often viewed as a specific function with associated requirements that depend upon the person’s status and classroom environment. Some persons choose to teach adults as a career in a traditional university and others choose a non-traditional route, such as an online school or corporate classroom.

But why does someone, or why would someone, decide to teach adults as a career choice? I have found there are persons who are good with the delivery of information, effective facilitating a learning process, or excel as public speakers, and those are often the underlying reasons for being in a classroom and holding a job related to some form of instruction. Other persons are subject matter experts or effective researchers, and they enjoy sharing their knowledge with students in the classroom.

Those reasons provide the basis for a teacher or instructor to be effective with the process of teaching or instruction, deliver a lecture in an engaging manner, or have the knowledge necessary to teach; however, what can further transform an instructor if he or she should seek to become a mentor and coach? More importantly, how does someone infuse their heart and soul into their teaching practice? Is it necessary for every instructor to care that much about their role? Is it important for the students to interact with someone who exhibits that type of passion? These are the questions I will explore further, based upon my work as an educator.

Influence of the Academic Environment

There are two types of academic environments, the traditional classroom and online environment. Most of my experience has been teaching adult students and faculty as students in non-traditional online classes. This is an important distinction to make as I have not been assigned the title of professor and I have not been assigned to teach in a traditional classroom, except for a few community college classes that were taught as an adjunct. Instead of preparing for weekly lectures, I have worked in an industry that requires classroom engagement and interactions during weekdays, weeknights, and on the weekends as well. In other words, there may not be stated hours; however, there is an expectation the students will be a top priority regardless of the day of week.

Also consider that in this environment I do not see my students, unless they have uploaded a photo or I hold a live seminar. I have no idea what most of my students often look like and that did take some getting used to as I came to the higher education field from a corporate training field, which means I have always interacted one-on-one with students. In a virtual environment, I am in constant communication with students as they need assistance or I complete my required facilitation tasks. This means I have learned how to take static, written communication and use it in a manner that can still convey a sense of warmth through the choice of words and tone used.

Consider the Adult Student’s Perspective

Now consider what the adult student might experience or feel when they enter the classroom. Based upon my experience in the non-traditional academic field, most students are working adults, whether they were my undergraduate or graduate students. This means their school work may not always be their only demand each week as they may have other responsibilities that includes a career and a family. These students usually seek out a degree for specific needs, often related to their career. When they interact with others in the classroom they are not always open-minded to begin with as they have their own beliefs, opinions, established patterns of thought, and habitual ways of thinking. They see the world in a particular manner and point of view.

Students also hold expectations, whether they express those expectations or not to their instructors. They expect the class, and others, to conform to what they want or need, confirm what they already believe, meet their personal and professional needs, and operate according to how they have experienced the world. Sometimes those expectations are met, and other times there is a clash of ideals, beliefs, and opinions. When expectations are not met, there can be a disconnect and that is when the instructor’s disposition and assistance matters most. Regardless of what students expect, they are interacting with an environment that is going to make demands of them, present ideas and information that may conflict with what they know or think or believe, and it is their instructor who is going to influence them and matter the most.

What is Heart and Soul for Teaching?

If the instructor matters so much for students, can an instructor simply adopt a caring and supportive attitude to help them engage in the learning process? From my experience, a caring instructor is more effective than someone who demands strict compliance and cannot empathize with students. What I am referring to though goes beyond caring and I refer to it as the heart and soul of teaching. For me, it has occurred as a product of time, along with a process of trial and error. When you put your heart and soul into a career, you stick with it during the times when you feel alive and are fully engaged in it, along with the times when it challenges you and teaches you new life lessons. When you put your heart and soul into something, and then you feel you have lost it, the joy seems to go out of your job and then it is time for a change of some kind.

Teaching has always been second nature for me. It is one of the first memories I had as a child, even before I knew what I was really doing, and throughout my career I found myself in a classroom no matter what my job titles might have been at the time. It was a natural progression for me to move into corporate training and then into higher education. Working as an online adjunct for many years did challenge the heart and soul I put into my career and I reached a point where the stressful conditions overcame me and I allowed it to create a negative mindset. I finally had to stop the excuses, unplug from technology, and take a sabbatical. I used that time to go back and remember who I am, why I love my career, and I came back renewed and reinvigorated. It was a matter of changing my focus from the conditions to the control I have over my thoughts.

For anyone who cares about their career, and believes they have put their heart and soul into their job or work, your students will notice it. They will be influenced by it, especially during the times when they feel challenged by something they have read, something they have heard, or something they are required to do. Your ability to care and empathize, while being a coach, mentor, and teacher, will serve you and them well. You are going to also feel challenged at times by circumstances, situations, conditions, and expectations. If you can stay focused on your ability to empower your students, and how much they depend upon your consistent attitude and disposition, perhaps you can maintain your balance during the challenging moments that do eventually subside.